2016 M-B Sprinter Dump Truck: Test Drive


No one disputes the inherent advantages a pickup truck provides when carrying heavy and awkwardly sized cargo, but suppose you need more capability and versatility than a conventional pickup offers? We think we've found the answer.

At a recent Mercedes-Benz press event we drove a Sprinter chassis-cab one-ton with a ScattoMaax dump bed, made by European equipment manufacturer Scattolini, mounted to the frame; we immediately put it on our post-Lotto-win "must-have" list.

The aluminum-and-high-strength steel dump bed mounts solidly to the frame (unique only to the chassis cab) and includes a strong center-mounted hydraulic ram that turns the flatbed into both a rear- and side-directed dump bed. With just a few pin pulls that take only a few seconds, you can convert your heavy-duty pickup bed into a commercial dump truck.

The chassis-cab Sprinter alone weighs a good chunk less than 5,000 pounds, while the dump bed, with all the plumbing, bumper reinforcements, safety gear and tire fender covers, weighs just less than 3,000 pounds. Gross vehicle weight ratings for the Sprinter 3500 chassis cab is just a touch more than 11,000 pounds, meaning the Sprinter dump bed has a payload rating less than 4,000 pounds. Unfortunately, Sprinter 3500 chassis cabs are only offered in two-wheel drive, but they do come in short- (144.3 inches) and long-wheelbase (170.3 inches) versions.

We had a chance to drive the Sprinter dump truck through the Rocky Mountains near Telluride, Colo. Although we didn't get a chance to motor around at max payload, we did get to test-drive the truck over a few high-altitude mountain passes and along several high-speed highways. We found the truck responsive and quite controlled around tight corners. We've found all Sprinter vans — even high-roof models — handle quite well, and this one was no different.

We should also note this is a commercial van cab, so it is a large, open cab with a good amount of wind noise at highway speeds, especially with the larger side mirrors.

Steering feel is a standout feature, as is the power of the turbo-diesel V-6. It moves the van, even at 9,000 feet above sea level, quite well. However, it does take a few seconds for the turbo to spool up before you get the acceleration you want. The iron-block 72-degree V-6 is rated at 188 horsepower and a respectable 325 pounds-feet of torque. During our drive without payload, the trip computer recorded 24 mpg for the 90-minute cruise from mountain town to mountain campsite.

The cost for the total package is close to $50,000, meaning that if the Sprinter 3500 chassis cab cost $37,000 (a good ballpark estimate), the ScattoMaax install and bed runs less than $20,000. But depending on how you plan to use the vehicle and for how long, this could be a downsized choice that could save your business a great deal of money and provide convenience over the long haul. Or maybe you'll just want it for fun.

For a price list of all 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, click on the icon below.

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